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Modern line arrays use separate drivers for high-, mid- and low-frequency passbands. For the line source to work, the drivers in each passband need to be in a line. Therefore, each enclosure must be designed to rig together closely to form columns composed of high-, mid- and low-frequency speaker drivers. Increasing the number of drivers in each enclosure increases the frequency range and maximum sound pressure level, while adding additional boxes to the array will also lower the frequency in which the array achieves a directional dispersion pattern.
The large format line array has become the standard for large concert venues and outdoor festivals, where such systems can be flown (rigged, suspended) from a structural beam, ground support tower or off a tall A-frame truss tower.Since the enclosures rig together and hang from a single point, they are more convenient to assemble and cable than other methods of arraying loudspeakers. The lower portion of the line array is generally curved backward to increase dispersion at the bottom of the array and allow sound to reach more audience members. Typically, cabinets used in line arrays are trapezoidal, connected by specialized rigging hardware.
Line Array theory is based on pure geometry and the thought experiment of the "free field" where sound is free to propagate free of environmental factors such as room reflections or temperature refraction.
A line source is a hypothetical one-dimensional source of sound, as opposed to the dimensionless point source. As a line source propagates sound equally in all directions in the free field, the sound propagates in the shape of a cylinder rather than a sphere. Since the surface area of the curved surface of a cylinder = 2π r h, where r is the radius and h is the height, every doubling of the radius results in a doubling of the surface area, thus the sound pressure halves with each doubling of distance from the line source. Since p1 = 1 and p2 = 4 for every distance doubled, this results in a sound pressure loss of approximately 3 dB.